Soul Hackers 2
“Soul Hackers 2 innovates when it comes to RPG gameplay, but its story is a step down compared to Atlus’ recent hits.”
Innovates on SMT method
Satisfying flip economic system and technique
Easy to recruit demons
Progression makes battles worthwhile
Story strikes too quick
Superficial hangout interactions
Emotional beats fall flat
I discovered my third useless physique about 5 hours into Soul Hackers 2. After 30 hours, I’ll discover out that corpses and plot twists are nothing to be shocked about.
Aion, the supercomputer model of God, foresees the tip of the world. It creates Ringo and Figue, two humanoid representations of its consciousness, to cease this impending apocalypse. Unfortunately, they arrive too late to avoid wasting their targets: genius scientist Ichiro Ondo and demon summoner Arrow. That’s the place the sport’s titular Soul Hacking is available in. Bring again the soul and apparently the physique revives with it. Ringo finally ends up reviving three individuals who conform to combat collectively for the sake of their very own targets. Who’ll actually win in the long run, although?
Soul Hackers 2 looks like it has the whole lot it must succeed as a JRPG crammed with sci-fi intrigue. However, it speeds previous the stakes and character arcs in service of an anticlimactic race to the end. Thankfully, its finely crafted turn-based fight and development make an in any other case stale story simple to digest.
Same however completely different method
Like different Atlus JRPGs, Soul Hackers 2 duplicates the Shin Megami Tensei method whereas meaningfully constructing on it. Recruit demons, combat with them, and fuse them into stronger allies. Once in battle, gamers must fastidiously use kind benefits and switch economic system to wipe enemies out as shortly as attainable or survive a brutal battle. One misstep may be the distinction between getting bodied by a full crew of demons or knocking all of them out with a multi-hit ending transfer.
Soul Hackers 2 has a knack for making each motion really feel prefer it’s value one thing.
Soul Hackers 2 makes use of this identical method to an extent with notable iteration. It brings again the Shin Megami Tensei mechanic the place the demons may be fused collectively to create ones with increased stats in comparison with ones pulled straight from the Compendium. It additionally permits you to stage up at an affordable tempo so that you simply don’t must grind endlessly, with sufficient new talents and demons to maintain you shifting ahead.
Another perk? Fighting demons helps you stage up and accumulate drops for buying and selling. You can meaningfully improve your COMP with stat boosts and passive perks (aka your weapons) utilizing enemy drops or gadgets your demons discover from exploring. Some drops are additionally meant to be traded for therapeutic gadgets and powerups, so useful resource accumulating is a extremely rewarding expertise with a number of functions.
Soul Hackers 2 has a knack for making each motion really feel prefer it’s value one thing. Shin Megami Tensei spinoffs sometimes contain exploiting enemy weaknesses to attraction to the flip economic system. In this case, you acquire “Stacks” every time you hit an enemy weak spot. Ringo releases these stacks in a “Sabbath” on the finish of every flip for added harm. Some demons even have their very own “bonuses” that activate throughout these Sabbaths. One may poison all enemies, whereas one other might grant the occasion a little bit of well being. It’s simple to stack the turns in your favor, as for those who’re doing the RPG equal of couponing, and have a constantly satisfying time constructing out the right occasion composition.
Now, if solely the story impressed me as a lot because the gameplay.
More exhibiting, much less telling
My English professors used to emphasize “show not tell.” Unfortunately, Soul Hackers 2 does plenty of telling and never a lot exhibiting. I stand by my preview, the place I wrote that the story shortly misplaced its shock worth after the primary three deaths. I get it. Aion beings can convey folks again to life with soul-hacking superpowers and everybody has an issue with their ex.
Soul Hackers 2 strikes quick. It dives into the reminiscences and regrets of Arrow, Milady, and Saizo early within the plot. To some extent, Soul Hackers 2 tells the story of three Demon Summoners who got here again to life to deal with their regrets and save the world. It doesn’t meaningfully weave the threads collectively, although. The three heroes convincingly react to their nemeses finally, however the buildup to that second is lacking. In reality, a few of their motives are hidden behind plot twists later within the story. The causes for holding these intimate moments outdoors of the primary plot make sense in context, however that implies that you’ll need to be in for the lengthy haul as you wade by lackluster plot and character improvement.
I all the time felt like a bystander moderately than somebody who was within the second myself.
Some of it might even be as a result of having Ringo because the protagonist. To be clear, I like Ringo as a hero. Her spunk and humorousness carried in any other case stale conversations. However, she’s additionally basically a new child.
Soul Hackers 2 tackles what it means to be human and what Ringo and Figue be taught from their passionate allies. Ringo because the protagonist simply appears like a waste when Arrow, Milady, and Saizo have such advanced backstories that we solely really feel within the third individual. I all the time felt like a bystander moderately than somebody who was within the second myself.
A technical afterthought
Soul Hackers 2 paces its fight completely, even when it strikes too quick to savor the story. However, there are different shifting components that would have used some work.
Areas just like the Axis and Club Courteous provide sidequests to satisfy, however they’re by no means something greater than fetch quests, which really feel like a waste of time. Some of them have worthwhile gadgets that make it value it, however more often than not, it’s simpler to fake they don’t exist. I additionally discovered it simple to disregard the Soul Matrix, which the sport reminds you to go to each different time you go to the Safehouse. Exploring it would give your occasion members worthwhile passive perks the extra you elevate your social bond with them, however you’ll need to return to a bland, repetitive dungeon again and again to take action.
Most of the controls work tremendous sufficient, however there are some quirks that bugged me. It’s a little bit of a problem to regulate the digital camera whereas working, and it tends to comply with Ringo a little bit too carefully. I additionally seen a lag with Ringo’s slash, an assault that can be utilized whereas exploring to stun enemies earlier than a random encounter. You’ll generally get caught in battle even for those who technically “hit” the enemy as the sport registers that you simply’ve walked into them and initiates the combat. I discovered myself having to time my slash early to make it hit after I needed, which made gameplay really feel a little bit unnatural at occasions.
These aren’t deal-breakers in comparison with the larger image. However, they begin to add up when the one positives are the gameplay and development.
Soul Hackers 2 is like the center sibling of the Shin Megami Tensei household. It doesn’t have the darkish fantasy legacy of the sequence its spun off from or the identical highschool hijinks because the Persona sequence. Instead, it’s a wonderfully enjoyable, if inoffensive comeback sport for a long-dormant IP. However, it doesn’t really feel prefer it’ll have the identical endurance as a few of Atlus’ current hits. Its emotional moments didn’t land as exhausting due to a missing narrative that tells greater than it exhibits. It innovates on some components of the SMT method with robust RPG programs and development, however it isn’t sufficient to make it one other must-play.
Is there a greater different?
Persona 5 Royal is a lengthier and extra entertaining sport with comparable RPG programs. If you’ve already performed that, there’s additionally Persona 4, Shin Megami Tensei 5, or the just lately remastered Shin Megami Tensei Nocturne. They’ll scratch the itch for a compelling story higher.
How lengthy will it take?
Soul Hackers 2 is comparatively brief in comparison with Atlus’ different works. It took me between 30 and 40 hours to complete.
Should you purchase it?
Yes. It’s a gentle advice for Shin Megami Tensei followers, although If you’re new to Atlus video games, it’s not a terrific start line.
Soul Hackers 2 was reviewed on a PlayStation 4.